Monitoring good governance in Africa
The African Peer Review Mechanism is Africa’s good governance promotion and self-monitoring initiative and was established with a primary objective of fostering the adoption of policies, values and standard that will lead to political stability and economic growth on the continent. CNBC Africa’s Wole Famurewa spoke to Edward Maloka, CEO of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism on the challenges of monitoring good governance in Africa.
Can you just start by giving us some insight into the African peer review mechanism in terms of detail on the template, what exactly are we trying to measure when we discuss governance?
Maloka: The African peer review mechanism is an initiative of the African union. It was set up in 2003, and currently we have 25 member countries chaired by Kenya, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. What it does is that the members subject themselves to a peer review process and inform us when they are ready for a peer review. This year, we just concluded Chad and Senegal and then we will send teams there to assist in beginning their own processes. Nigeria, Cote D’Ívoire, Chad, Togo, South Africa and a number of countries are independent national officers.
The independent national officers work together with the national governing councils or commissions which are civil society bodies to do a self-assessment exercise based on four thematic areas: political governance, economic governance, socio-economic development and corporate governance. After they conduct a self-assessment study, we come in with a team of experts. It can be about twenty or more experts from all over the country led by our team and we validate what we have seen. We spend about two weeks validating and then we prepare reports and then give to the country and then it goes to the senate. We have three reports that we’ve sent of Chad, Senegal and Djibouti.
Last month, you presented the APRM strategic plan which highlights the strategies on resource mobilization and programmatic activities. I think that’s the way it was put here but can you just explain that? What exactly is this strategy?
Maloka: The APRM is in a period of decline. The setup is thirteen years old but over the last few years went into a period of decline due to the things that were unresolved but they have since been addressed and President Kenyatta suggested the need to revitalize the mechanism. This task was given to me as the new CEO of the secretariat.
From a corporate point of view, when you have to revitalize an organisation, you need a program; you need and we came up with a strategic plan. We are in the final stages of its finalization, we have developed it, it rests on six pillars and it will be going to the member states in Kigali for a crusade for the final stamp. We will implement it for the period 2016-2020. Our program plan deals with what we want to achieve, how we are going to achieve it and the financing mechanism.
This program has been on for over ten years now so looking back, what will you say has been the benefits of this peer review?
MALOKA: The most important thing is that Africa has been able to offer an alternative because Africa is one of the continents that has been over evaluated. There are lots of external agencies coming to value us and we have been able to show that we have our own mechanism, our own instruments that we can use for self-evaluation.
It is country driven and some of the recommendations that have come out of our self-assessment programs have been implemented in a number of countries like South Africa and Nigeria. Quite a number of countries are implementing but we have to do more to make sure that the review process is not just a formal exercise but that the plan of action will make these countries strengthen their national accountability mechanism, institutions, policies and legislative programs.
Looking back, which countries would you say provides the best example for the improvement in governance from the reviews that has been done over the years?
Maloka: The whole essence of APRM is that countries don’t want to be compared to each other. It’s a pure base process. We have Lesotho, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Benin, Mali, chad, Senegal and Ethiopia. So you can see the range, this is quite representative of our continent but the countries are not the same level of development in different ways and they don’t have the same culture. That is why we emphasize that the review process must be country based and driven by the country’s specific circumstances and it must be self-assessment based which is the whole logic of APRM.
So we are not going to say this country is better than this but all we can say is that all our countries and member states are trying their best to implement their national plans of action and those that have not been reviewed are also in the different stages of moving towards a full evaluation. Our role as a continental secretariat is to work with national mechanism, the national secretariat, agencies and also the focal point to ensure that the countries work together and implement things. Our role is mainly to assist and to work with member states but not to compare which one is best and which is not doing well, we don’t think that approach will assist us.
Help us appreciate why we go on to review if we cannot compare one country to the next?
Maloka: That is not how things are done in the African continent. The results are basically the same because if you look at the national plan of action, we have four thematic areas and under each thematic area, there are objectives and there are indicators. So the National Governing Council then conducts a self-assessment and based on that the country will pick up where it’s strong and where it’s weak.
It will then develop a draft national plan of action of how it’s going to address the weaknesses; it will even develop timeframes, roadmaps and also the resourcing part of it, and then set up a national mechanism so you still have the same reserve. The whole essence of Pan- African collective diplomacy is not to compete with each other; it is to assist each other.
The whole theme of APRM is to work together, a country can only compare with respect of the implementation of its national plan of action, not how its neighbor is performing but they can learn from their neighboring countries, to say, “Oh, this is the best practice, why can’t we do it this way or that way? So we do have this regional and continental engagement where countries learn from each other but you don’t say a country is doing better than the other because once you do that, it will create problem with respect to African solidarity and collective diplomacy.
I understand that there is APRM summit in July in Kigali, can you just highlight what will be the focus of that summit and what can we expect after that?
Maloka: The member states met and considered quite a number of things. The highlights of the summit will be the three reports which will be presented on Senegal, Chad and Djibouti and of course the panel members. The APRM is an independent exercise led by panel members who are appointed to lead the APRM processes but we the APRM secretariat support them. The panel members are going to present a report to the President and the Presidents of respective countries will then respond.
There will be a discussion and feedback from colleagues, but also from the secretariat point of view. We have done a lot of work around the revitalization plan for the five year strategic plan; we hope that the member states will finalize it. Also, the full migration of APRM to the African union, we are looking forward to the member states finalizing the statute that we have developed. Those are some of the core agenda that we hope will be finalized at the summit by our President.